Ontario AgriNews -
May 2011, Vol.35, No.5
"Barley sprouts to replace corn as cattle feed?"
- by Nelson Zandbergen - AgriNews Staff Writer
CREEK - A Moose Creek dairy farmer is set to install Ontario’s
first innovative system that will grow barley sprouts indoors
and use them as the essential ingredient in a revamped feeding
ration that entirely replaces corn and most other grain.
NutraFx has sold a pair of the new "nutraculture
wheels" to the Stormont County producer, according to
company founder Roland Poirier, each one capable of generating
1,200 pounds of sprouts daily from 120 pounds of barley seed.
"Nutraculture is the age-old practice of growing barley
sprouts," said Roland, whose firm began rolling out
the systems April 1.
in price from $23,500 to $26,500 (not including the necessary
heated building that roughly doubles the cost),
the units are 12 feet wide and slightly resemble the paddle
wheels on an old-fashioned Mississippi river boat. Instead
of paddles, there are large panel trays that contain the
seed, which slowly rotate through a spray nozzle mist of
water on the downswing. A one-quarter horsepower
Six-days of staggered production rests on the unit at any
given time, as it takes that long for a tray of seed to turn
into luscious green shoots of the desired eight-inch length.
key benefits for the farmer are lower feed costs and improved
herd health - in addition to being
a less environmentally intensive crop than typical corn or
other grain feed supplements, said Poirier.
He said a New York state farmer who recently installed two
wheels realized a payback of just six months.
A 100-head milking herd would require the equivalent of
12 to 16 acres of barley seed to supply a pair of wheels
for 2,400 pounds of daily sprout output - while effectively
displacing a much larger corn acreage. One wheel is said
to displace 30 acres of regular corn or grain production
in the feed ration.
then allows the farmer to grow more alfalfa for feed; Poirier
also recommends adding some of the leftover barley
straw to the mix, to ensure adequate fibre in the animals’ diet.
The actual sprouts themselves are 99 per cent digestible,
he said, compared to the 68 per cent digestibility of the
corn they replace.
"Corn is really too valuable to be feeding to cows
anyway," he asserted.
sprouts also reduce acidity in the cow’s gut and
eliminate the need for all supplements - except for soybeans.
NutraFX recommends 2.5 kg beans daily per cow within the
As part of the system, the farmer is supplied with an Apple
iPad, which allows Poirier to remotely monitor the operation
to ensure maximum output and measure system benefits across
Follow-up article to follow, complete with photos once
unit is installed at the farm location.
to above article on Eastern Ontario AgriNews website
Folks Article - March 21, 2011
" Fodder is pasture
in a box" -
by Steven E. Smith
making the $40,000 investment in the fodder growth chamber,
the Wilsons have consistently added fodder to the milk
cow diet and reduced the amount of off farm feed purchases.
After greatly improving an off cow with fodder, the Wilsons
now call their fodder production unit “Pasture in
Feeding fresh pasture to dairy
cows in winter isn’t impossible if you ask Ken Wilson
of Black Lake, NY. This St. Lawrence county, New York dairyman
is supplementing his lactating cow TMR with fresh barley
sprouts from his on-farm growth chamber that yields six-day-old
Wilson is currently producing his
fodder in a Fodder Solutions unit. He plans to install
two more indoor units. One of those units will be Wilson’s
own invention, Nutra-Culture “The Queen Mary Paddle
Wheel,” based on the ferris wheel design. “This
is a five-ton building once we get all the systems in operation.” They
will have all three models in operation in the building
“We have had lots of ideas come
to mind and our curiosity drives us to continuously investigate
new concepts with our fodder,” indicated Wilson.
For example, although the fodder system was designed to
use chlorine treated water, Wilson experimented and found
that the fodder yield increased when he used other solutions.
Wilson used his farmer ingenuity and found that his iodine
based formulation effectively treated the water but did
not inhibit growth. Wilson findings increased 300 pounds
of growth in the six-day cycle. After other modifications,
Wilson has the unit, which was designed to produce 1,200
pounds per day, yielding about 1,800 pounds now. It was
originally designed to be outside. But in order to control
growth and focus on production experimentation, he decided
to move the unit inside a building.
Wilson’s farm’s inclusion
of fodder happened because Wilson was looking to improve
his operation. Despite being able to average as much as
112 pounds per cow per day, Wilson has always wanted to
do better. “It goes back seven years when we were
feeding a probiotic product from Nutrafix. We started sampling
the manure with the idea we would remove those things from
the cow’s diet that she wasn’t using. While
on a company trip to California, I learned of the concept
that was first used as ‘culture’ back in the
1860s. The concept fit our farm’s mission.”
Once Ken returned from the trip, his
father John agreed that they needed to purchase a system
and try it at their northern New York dairy farm. “It’s
a bad time to be retiring. While it was a $40,000 investment,
the unit produces feed every day unlike some of my other
equipment. This is an exciting technology. With it, we
are feeding the roots,” stated John Wilson.
How it works
The system provides light and water
on a timer system. Irrigation line is attached above each
tier of trays and growth lights are stationed throughout
the chamber. As needed the system automatically irrigates
the 80 degree mildly treated water to three tiers of sprouts
each hour so that the temperature is not drastically reduced
within the chamber. A fan circulated the air within the
chamber. Each day, the most mature trays are emptied from
the end of the system and then new trays are added at the
other end which in turn pushes the next oldest trays to
the just emptied other end. Each tray holds five pounds
of barley seed that will yield 50 as-fed pounds of fodder
on day six. Six days is the ideal amount of growth because
a mold will develop in the top of the mass. There are other
fodder producers that are chemically treating the sprouts
so that they can grow them for seven or eight days, but
the Wilsons have decided to produce a more organic product.
Even better: cows do crave
Opening a feed alley door on a cold
winter day doesn’t often motivate a barn full of
cows to get up and come to the feed bunk. But animals from
either side of the barn noticably made their way towards
the Wilsons with their 50 pound panel of fodder which clearly
demonstrated the high palatability of the feed. A recent
forage analysis reported the fresh barley forage as 11.1
percent dry matter, 16.1 percent crude protein, 22.9 percent
acid detergent fiber, 39 percent neutral detergent fiber,
16.5 percent starch, 18.7 percent simple sugars and 22.9
percent water soluble carbohydrates. “We recently
nursed a sick cow that we thought we may have to put down
back into the herd on the fodder. We are finding that chopped
feeds have an acid pH while the barley sprout is an alkaline.
We are also learning that grain hulls contain a colostrum-like
compound that is high in conjugated linoleic acids (CLA)
that helps the developing sprout. This could be part of
the benefit to our cows,” offered Wilson.
Prior to feed fodder, the Wilsons
were known for high milk production. For the last five
years they have averaged at least 90 pounds of production
per cow. “High milk production is driven by our forage
program. Now on fodder, herd production dropped to around
78 pounds per cow, the grain fed per cow dropped from about
28 pounds down to eight pounds now.”
“We measure everything here.
We are focusing on our Income Over Feed Cows, Income per
cow and herd efficiency areas such as cull rate and the
breeding program. We also noticed that we are dealing with
about 20 percent less manure. Basically we are feeding
more forages so our feed program consists of more of what
we produce here on our farm. Our goal is to have enough
fodder to feed 50 pounds per cow and to produce 80 pounds
of milk despite being fed no purchased grain,” stated
“While we tried and found that
our cows liked buckwheat and sunflowers, our current production
unit had sunflower hulls all over the inside of it. Nothing
ventured, nothing gained,” grinned Wilson.
“We liked tricale and peas with
the high sugars yield but that combination seemed to promote
mold growth. We think we might try rice in the near future,” indicated
Having seen an improvement in cow
health and cost of production, Wilson is happy with the
decision to use fodder. Wilson is now responding to weekly
international calls from people interested in fodder. “This
endeavor has become a new chapter in my farming career,” concluded
Ken Wilson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
to article on Country Folks website